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How old is 'too old' for a recommendation letter?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Fusion, Jul 7, 2004.

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  1. Fusion

    Fusion Senior Member 10+ Year Member

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    Apr 6, 2004
    At which point does a letter of recommendation become too old to use? A premed advisor once told me that letters of recommendation generally should not be more than a year old. I agree that the more recent a letter is written, the better. However, if I were to request an updated recommendation from someone who wrote me one a few years back, I am somewhat concerned that the letter won?t be as strong just because the recommender may have forgotten some of the details that make for a strong LOR (i.e., details that may be in the original rec letter). I realize that some professors may hang on to a copy of the letter they wrote for a student so that they can just update it if need be. But many just write the letter and send it off. I am primarily concerned with my recommendations that were written four years ago. My letter file looks like this:

    Graduate science professor, May 2004
    Non-science professor from undergrad, June 2004
    MD who I worked with in the OR, September 2003
    MD who I did research for, November 2000
    Post-bac science professor, September 2000

    Do you think the older letters will be okay in light of the recently written recommendations, or should I request my recommenders to update (and run the risk of the new letter not being as strong as the original)?

    Thanks for your suggestions.
     
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  3. antoniodlc

    antoniodlc Member 7+ Year Member

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    Aug 17, 2003
    i don't feel there is anything wrong with old letters, unless those are your only letters. most letters are written after you completed a course or a work position, and most admissions understand this. if you accomplished something 4 years ago, it might be inconvenient if you ask the letter writer to remember what you did back then. unless you are still close to the letter writer, i would simply notify them as a courtesy to say that you are using their old letters for medical school admissions.

    as for myself, i applied for the 2004 entering class with most of my academic letters written in 1997 and 1998. i had no problems.
     
  4. Violinrose

    Violinrose SDN Donor 7+ Year Member

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    Sep 14, 2002
    I agree. I had letters going back to 98, 99, 00. But I also had recent letters as well. I still got in for 2004.

    You should be fine and do not need to request an updated LOR.

    good luck! :)
     
  5. calstudent

    calstudent Senior Member 5+ Year Member

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    Apr 12, 2004
    hey, it may not be a bad idea to contact your older recommenders, ask them if they have a copy of your old letter; have coffee with them or visit their office (or talk over the phone), and then ask them to update it with the new information you discuss.
    i know a few places want more recent letters, but i am with the above posters in that, since they are not your only letters, you should be okay. but, i think an updated letter will serve even better (if possible)

    good luck
     
  6. 45408

    45408 aw buddy 7+ Year Member

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    Jun 13, 2004
    Since you have them over a time "gradient," I wouldn't worry at all.
     
  7. Naima19

    Naima19 Junior Member 5+ Year Member

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    Apr 27, 2004
    It is my understanding that letters of recommendation had to be sent directly from the school or the person giving the recommendation. My suggestion would be to call those professors ask them to write a recommendation and then suggest that if they need a copy of the old recommendation you can send it to them.

    Better yet just call the schools you are applying to and ask them what their policy is on the matter. If you send them off yourself without verifying, it could delay the review of your application.
     
  8. Fusion

    Fusion Senior Member 10+ Year Member

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    Apr 6, 2004
    Thanks everyone. Anyone else have an opinion on the matter?
     
  9. TexPre-Med

    TexPre-Med Banned Banned 10+ Year Member

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    Aug 5, 2003
    Texas
    I have been told that all of them should be within 2 years of the present. Don't remember when or how I heard that, but a lot can happen in 2 years.
     
  10. 172pilot

    172pilot

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    Jan 10, 2011
    I have graduated with M.S. in education in 2007, 3.5 GPA, and I am applying to dental school, and my science courses were all taken during undergrad, before 2002.

    Between 2002 and now I have worked jobs that were not related to dentistry- you guessed it I have been teaching. I found that it's not my calling and I keep constantly thinking about dentistry, because it's something I really want to do. Now I need 3 letters of recommendations from science professors. Can someone here suggest the best way for me to get those letters?

    Thanks
     
  11. Kaustikos

    Kaustikos Archerize It 7+ Year Member

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    Jan 18, 2008
    Always Bespin
    You're gonna have to go back to school...
     
  12. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

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    Mar 7, 2005
    Faculty
    Good to see that you did a search first but you might be better off asking this question in the pre-dental forum rather than in pre-allo where we aren't experts on what dental schools look for.

    And wow! I'm glad someone isn't trying to apply today with no letter more recent than 2004.... I was trying to figure out how to approach that one!
     
  13. emhl123

    emhl123

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    Mar 19, 2016
    Does anyone know if dental schools accept recommendation letters from previous employers? I started a new job within the past year and do not think I would get as strong of a recommendation letter from my current employer.
     
  14. Lawper

    Lawper Orbiting 2+ Year Member

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    Outer Space
    Rocket Scientist
    Good luck! :luck:
     
  15. poulpoole

    poulpoole

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    Mar 19, 2016
    New York
    Hello :)
    I think, it may not be a terrible thought to contact your more seasoned recommenders, inquire as to whether they have a duplicate of your old letter; have espresso with them or visit their office (or talk via telephone), and afterward request that they redesign it with the new data you examine. I know a couple places need later letters, however i am with the above blurbs in that, since they are not your just letters, you ought to be alright. be that as it may, i think an upgraded letter will serve far and away superior.
    Thank you:)
     
  16. Astra

    Astra 5+ Year Member

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    This thread is ancient. I was in 5th grade when it was created :uhno:
     
  17. P0ke

    P0ke M3

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    Nov 8, 2015
    Gotta love the 5 year necro bumps
     

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